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October 16th, 2014

From my desk: Why continuing physician education is crucial to the future of urology

At this year’s AUA I saw some research that I found troubling, given my role at Cook. Researchers expect a 29 percent drop in the number of urologists by 2025. That is a huge number of skilled physicians we are poised to lose. This is particularly troubling news because we know that the patient populations for common urological conditions are only going to increase. However, there are some other factors at play that could result in a smaller—but mighty—group of urologists in the future.

One factor that will help prepare current and future urologists is making sure that the medical device industry keeps up with the needs of patients. We can do so by developing innovative new technology that shortens procedure times and prevents the need for additional or repetitive treatment.

Another factor is physician education, which is where I live and breathe every day. I’m responsible for the Urology division’s Vista℠ program in the U.S., which means that every day I see physicians learning from and working with the top urologists in the country. Our typical Vista courses are designed for small groups, so that the attending physicians work shoulder-to-shoulder with expert urologists as they treat patients. Through programs like these, we’ve been able to see patient care improve, as physicians go back to their home hospitals and apply the techniques they learned.

We’ve made physician education programs a priority for many years now, since we recognized that physicians were not getting much educational support from the medical device industry. An innovative device in the hands of someone who hasn’t been educated on its use doesn’t benefit patients much. And, as much as we love to talk about our devices and technology, physician technique matters. The response from the physician community to our education programs has been overwhelmingly positive. In my 4 years of running these programs, I haven’t heard a single complaint from a physician.

More recently, we’ve expanded our courses to include physicians in residency, in order to encourage an interest in continuing education early in their careers. These courses are typically larger and often combine several universities into one session, in order to foster a network among a new generation of physicians. The enthusiasm we’re seeing from these residents reinforces my belief that, even with fewer urologists in the work force in 2025, the specialty will remain capable and patient care won’t suffer.

We’re always looking for new ways to accommodate the needs of urologists. If you have any suggestions about how to improve our Vista courses, we want to hear them. E-mail us at

Pete Thunselle
Clincal Sales Manager – Urology